October 09, 2015
Contact: Special Agent Cheryl Davis
Phone Number: (313) 234-4000
Former Georgia Physician Pleads Guilty To Illegally Prescribing Controlled-Substances To Kentucky Residents
Michael Johnston admitted to prescribing oxycodone and Xanax without conducting physical exams
LONDON, Ky. - A former Georgia physician has admitted in federal court that he conspired with the owner of a Georgia pain clinic and others, to unlawfully distribute thousands of controlled substance prescription pills to residents of Kentucky.
On October 8th, 2015, Michael Johnston, 58, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar, to the charge of conspiring to unlawfully distribute oxycodone.
Johnston admitted that from May 2011 until November 2011, he conspired with Joel Shumrak, the owner of a Tucker, Georgia, pain clinic, and others, to illegally distribute large quantities of oxycodone and Xanax to residents of numerous Kentucky counties. Johnston further admitted that he ignored the fact that his Kentucky customers were addicts and were likely selling a large percentage of the drugs for profit upon their return to Kentucky.
Johnston, who had previously practiced as a pediatrician, acknowledged that he had no formal training or experience in prescribing adult pain medication, prior to being hired by Shumrak. According to Johnson’s plea agreement, many of the patients were seen by non-physicians, who then recommended prescriptions, allowing the clinic to increase the number of patients that could be seen in a day.
Johnson also admitted that he provided little or no physical examination to many of these patients, before providing the prescriptions; he made no referrals for surgery or other medical exams; and he was encouraged to see as many patients, per day, as possible.
Court records also show that Shumrak’s clinic did not accept medical insurance, operating on a cash-only basis. Shumrak has also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment earlier this year.
Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Detroit Field Division; A.D. Wright, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Miami Field Division; and Daniel Salter, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Atlanta Field Division, jointly made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA in Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Ohio. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Dotson prosecuted this case on behalf of the federal government.